Revealing the Obvious About Orthodox Exclusion

The White House on September 15 hosted with considerable fanfare a United We Stand Summit in the East Room—in opposition, they said, to crime. This event had been suggested to Joe Biden by his close friend Al Sharpton after the May shooting of 10 black shoppers in Buffalo. The usual suspects milked the event shamelessly, particularly Kamala Harris, who linked hate crimes exclusively to the Right—totally sparing leftist and black nationalist perpetrators of such misdeeds. 

A group that the summit’s organizers snubbed were Orthodox Jews, who can most certainly claim to have been victims of racially motivated violence in places like Brooklyn. One Orthodox Jew was finally admitted to the conference, but another one, Duvi Honig, who heads the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, never had any response to his acceptance. Honig explained, quite plausibly, what happened to his RSVP when he observed that the Orthodox Jewish community is being punished for “supporting Trump.” 

The fact that at least 83 percent of self-described Orthodox Jews voted for Donald Trump in 2020 and have overwhelmingly turned their backs on a radicalized Democratic Party should not surprise us. Neither the Democrats’ pampering of violent criminals, nor their relentless pushing of the LGBT agenda is likely to keep observant Jews in the party of Sharpton, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jerry Nadler. One doesn’t have to wonder for whom this demographic will vote, almost to a person in the New York gubernatorial race, if the choice is between a Jewish Republican and a very left- leaning Democratic incumbent. We may also assume that black nationalist groups that prey on Jews in urban areas were lavished with honors at Biden’s woke gathering. Honig therefore should count himself lucky to have been snubbed. 

The political leanings of Orthodox Jews have exacted a price in the Empire State and particularly in New York City, where this group is found in large numbers. Not only were they denied the chance to rub shoulders with transgendered activists, black nationalists, and abortion-without-restrictions zealots in the White House. 

Lately the Orthodox have seen their educational system under frontal attack from Democratic politicians and “civil servants.” A ruling by a New York state court requiring Yeshiva University to establish an LGBT club, in clear violation of the institution’s religious principles, set off a firestorm at this Orthodox college. By a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court refused to stay the order. But if Yeshiva appeals directly to the highest court citing its First Amendment right, there is an excellent chance, according to Judge Samuel Alito, that the school would win. (The call for a stay of the order lost by only one vote.) 

After the university administration moved to cancel all clubs on campus to avoid what a court packed with Democratic judges was inflicting on them, the gay activists pressing the case agreed to withdraw their demand. Since the case would likely lose on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the New York judicial decision may have been intended simply to harass “Trumpies” in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.

Partisan politics may also be driving the efforts to “reform” a very Orthodox school in Far Rockaway Yeshiva Darchei Torah, which the Democratic government has been going after, with an assist from the New York Times, for not complying with state guidelines for secular studies. This school has produced successful professionals, unlike many New York City public schools, which are, needless to say, not under special government scrutiny for their dismal pedagogical results. This year the New York State Department of Education canceled four Regent tests that were designed to determine basic competency for high school students before allowing them to graduate. The state board and the teachers’ union are trying to provide “alternative ways” of succeeding in New York public schools for those who obviously can’t meet state standards for graduation. 

The selective treatment meted out to Orthodox Jewish schools by those who are gutting proficiency standards for public high schools seems to be the height of cheek (or chutzpah). But it all makes political sense. Unlike the city’s public schools under the sway of the teachers’ union, it is doubtful that Yeshiva Darchei Torah’s staff support the Democratic Party or is cheering on Joe Biden’s Rainbow Coalition. Two years ago, the Times went after another Orthodox academy in Queens, for providing a supposedly substandard education. Since it was later learned that this institution had graduates in Harvard Law School, we may again look for partisan reasons behind this attack. 

In 2018, Betsy DeVos, Trump’s secretary of education, was the first high-profile government official to visit Darchei Torah and was well-received by students and staff. No similar visits have been scheduled by the Biden Administration, and it is hard to avoid the impression that the Far Rockaway school is not viewed as a friend of the political establishment in Washington or in the city and state of New York. This factor, far more than the school’s imputed educational inadequacies, may be behind recent media and administrative assaults on its standards.   

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About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

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